A Thousand Words
Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE
"Look towards the window."
His voice is barely more than a whisper, but it's loud in the quiet of the room. Hermione turns her head, but her eyes are still towards him, looking, looking -
"I said towards the window, Granger."
Teasing. Is he teasing her? Hard to be sure. She's never been terribly good at reading people; has always rather muddled along with social interaction. It hasn't ever really mattered, when she's had Harry's indifference at one shoulder and Ron's amiableness at the other.
Neither of them are here now. Her shoulders feel cold, exposed.
She looks towards the window.
There's the fluttering click of the shutter and then she hears the soft exhale of smoke from the flash. The sharp, peppery scent of the Candensio charm drifts under her nose.
He makes a humming sound, and she wants to know what it means, but she will not look at him.
She will not.
His stool creaks, and she will not look at him, and his light footsteps cross the floor, and she will not look at him, and he stands behind her, and she will not will not will not -
"This isn't right," he says. HIs hand tugs at her hair, and her heart is in her mouth, and she does not look as he loosens the bun, pulling curls free around her face, fingers just grazing the nape of her neck as he lets the heavy weight of her hair rest there.
She still can't see him, but she can feel the warmth of him at her spine, there and then gone as he walks back to the camera.
"Look at me," he says.
Two months earlier
Neville is scarlet with embarrassment. "I didn't have a choice," he says miserably, averting his eyes to the floor and avoiding Ron's furious gaze.
"Didn't have a choice?" Seamus asks, incredulous, glaring daggers across the room to where Hannah is having her photograph taken with her sister.
Neville mumbles something too low to hear, and Harry jostles him in a friendly way. "Come on mate, nobody's actually cross, we're just surprised."
It's a flagrant lie, but of course Harry's attitude to things will usually set the tone, and Neville sends him a look of hopeless gratitude.
"Gran said," he whispers, and then stops, clears his throat, and says in a stronger voice, "Gran said, that she wasn't going to have the marriage of the heirs of House Longbottom and House Abbott documented by anyone but the best." He swallows, sneaks what seems to be a fortifying glance at Harry, and then smiles slightly. "And then she said that she didn't give a flying f-"
Hannah's voice rings, clear as a bell, across the ballroom. They all look towards her, Hermione turning to gaze over her shoulder.
The camera flashes, and Hermione blinks, startled.
He is the best, there's no denying it. Neville and Hannah's wedding photos are beautiful - candid and intimate and graceful. Having them in black and white makes the play of light and shadow as Neville spins Hannah in their first dance breathtaking.
Hermione flicks through the album, making appreciative noises that she doesn't even have to fake, and trying to make sure that Ron doesn't get biscuit crumbs on everything.
The photograph of her takes her by surprise.
It's almost full-length, and the two edges are framed by the dark lines of Harry and Ron's arms. He's caught her in the act of turning towards him, and her eyes are large and surprised. She blinks, drops her gaze to the floor, and then raises it again, cautious, her lips slightly parted.
There's something fragile in her expression; something so uncertain that she seems completely off-guard.
"Wow," says Harry, leaning over her shoulder. "You look incredible there."
He lifts the album from her hands, squinting to get a closer look before he looks up at Neville. "Your gran was right, Nev."
The invitation to speak at the International Convocation for Species Rights had come as a surprise; even more so the need for a portrait.
"You're the keynote," Harry shrugs. "Of course they'll want a good picture of you for the programme."
"You should use that one from Nev's wedding," Ron says, apparently guilelessly.
He's wrong, of course. Completely wrong. That photograph makes her look almost nakedly vulnerable. And besides, it isn't a headshot.
But his words sow a seed, and the next day she sends a short, formal note by owl.
It doesn't occur to her that he would say yes.
"Look at me."
His face is mostly hidden by the camera, but the studio lights glint in his pale hair, painting stripes of shadow into the folds of his shirt as he bends forward, peering through the viewfinder at her.
She wonders what he sees, and is suddenly desperate to know.
He frowns and then raises his head to rest his pointed chin on top of the camera, regarding her with sharp, grey eyes.
What has he seen in her face to make him look at her like that?
"Who are you?" he asks her, as though it's a perfectly normal question.
"I'm -" Hermione frowns, perplexed. They've known one another since they were eleven, he can't possibly mean -
"Hermione Granger, war heroine?"
She winces slightly, the old discomfort rearing its head. "I'd rather not -"
"Champion of the downtrodden?"
There's slight lift at the corner of his mouth: he is teasing her. Hermione folds her arms and attempts to return his stare as coolly as she can.
"I hardly think -"
"Ah, no." He smirks, drops his gaze to the floor. "What then? Upstart mudblood?"
Hermione freezes, feeling anger course through her in a boiling wave. Her jaw is so tight that she actually can't open it to say anything, and then the shutter clicks again, and Draco smiles, small and satisfied.
"There's that fire," he says, eyes warm and appreciative on hers.
She makes no reply as he steps towards her, just looks and looks and looks.
A/N: I just watched Season 2 of The Crown and it did things to me. Holiday fic will commence 25th December so look out for that! Much love as ever, S x